Unlike aspirational Netflix series set on the coasts, the streaming comedy The Ranch takes place in rural Colorado -- and its devoted fans love the view. The all-star cast includes That 70's Show alums Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, and veteran actors Sam Elliott and Debra Winger. Kutcher doubles as an executive producer.
The series debuted in 2016, and while it hasn't been a critical darling, it's been a popular favorite. The show was enveloped in scandal in 2017 after Masterson was accused of sexual assault. The actor was subsequently fired, and his character written out. More bad news followed in 2019, when it was announced The Ranch was ending production, and would drop its final 20 new episodes in 2019 and 2020. (Fans didn't take kindly to that news.)
Viewers seem to love the series for the way it portrays the Bennetts, its fictional, but relatable clan of ranch hands and bartenders, including ex-jock Colt (Kutcher), his brother, Rooster (Masterson), his dad, Beau (Elliott), and his mother, Maggie (Winger).
While you wait for the two last batches of new episodes to hit Netflix, here are 31 surprising factoids about this refreshing comedy.
Just like an old-school sitcom, The Ranch is filmed in front of a studio audience. So, when you hear people crack up at the gags, you're really hearing people crack up.
Unlike most series, The Ranch is divided into parts, not seasons. (It's listed that way on Netflix, too.) Each part features 10 episodes. The show's Part 7 is due later this year; its concluding Part 8 is set to follow sometime in 2020.
If you pay attention to the names of the episodes, you’ll notice they're all names of country-music songs -- and not just any country-music songs. All of the Part 1 episodes take their titles from the Kenny Chesney catalog. Part 2 belongs to George Strait, Part 3 to Tim McGraw, Part 4 to Garth Brooks, Part 5 to Dolly Parton and Part 6 to Alabama.
Country heartthrob Thomas Rhett made his acting debut in the Part 4 episode, "Wrapped Up in You." (He played himself!)
Winger, the three-time Oscar nominee (Terms of Endearment, An Officer and a Gentleman, Shadowlands) who famously turned her back on Hollywood in the mid-1990s, told ET Online that she was drawn to The Ranch because she “hadn’t done it [a sitcom] before.”
Kutcher told the New York Times that the show offered the role of Beau, the Bennetts' patriarch, to Sam Elliott because ... well, Kutcher explains it best: “You know the feeling that no matter how old your dad gets, he can always whip your ass?" Kutcher told the newspaper. "Sam is that guy.”
Ashton Kutcher has said the first priority for the architects of The Ranch was to set the show in "small-town America." "It’s the middle of the country, the heartland ... yet nobody makes content for them," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I don’t think the success of Duck Dynasty was an accident. I think that show was successful because it spoke to a specific audience that can relate to that life.”
As noted by the livestock publication Beef Magazine, The Ranch frequently deals with issues faced by real-world ranchers, such as the 2015 toxic spill in Animas River (part of the Colorado River system), and how the event impacted local ranchers' land.
After Masterson was fired from The Ranch, viewers took to social media to passionately lobby for him and his character (who was killed off) to be brought back. In an Instagram post, Masterson urged them right back to keep supporting the show and its cast and crew.
News that the The Ranch was ending production also set off the faithful. Many took to Twitter to tell the show’s stars that they were canceling their Netflix subscriptions.
After Danny Masterson left The Ranch, Dax Shepard moved in. The Parenthood vet plays Luke Matthews, Colt’s cousin, and an Army vet with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Fans have long speculated that the cast drinks real alcohol in scenes that feature booze -- and they may be right. As a guest on Conan, Ashton Kutcher admitted, “We fully, like full-blown -- we drink.”
In addition to Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, The Ranch has featured appearances by That '70s Show alums Wilmer Valderrama, Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Laura Prepon and Mila Kunis (Kutcher's real-life wife).
In between the cute baby photos and TV-family shots of the Bennetts, The Ranch's opening credits feature two movie publicity stills: one of Masterson from Beethoven’s 2nd; and, one of Winger from Urban Cowboy.
The Ranch is set in the fictional town of Garrison, Colo. However, the town you see in the show’s opening credits is very real. It's Ouray, Colo.
The Hollywood star hails from Iowa. “I was raised in a town with a little more than 100 people, so I’m pretty familiar with ranching and farming,” Kutcher once told the New York Times.
While The Ranch’s intro theme is instantly recognizable as the 1970s hit, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” it's a new version -- as recorded by the offspring of the old song's singers: Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson; and Shooter Jennings, son of Waylon Jennings.
You may not have noticed this teeny-tiny detail, but the prop buffalo in the bar run by Maggie (Debra Winger) wears a different hat in every single episode. It's modeled a sombrero, a wizard’s hat, a top hat, a crown and more.
The Ranch's father figure lives on a ranch in Malibu, Calif. (It's probably a bit fancier than the one from the show.) The mustached icon, who's starred in scores of Westerns, owns a second ranch property in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Emmy-winner director David Trainer has helmed every episode of The Ranch -- just like he directed every episode That '70s Show.
The Ranch writers love working in winks to Ashton Kutcher's old show. A Ranch gag, for instance, about Kutcher's character getting his hand stuck in a cow is a callback to a That '70s Show gag about Kutcher's character getting his stand stuck in a vase. In another Ranch episode, guest-star Kurtwood Smith calls Rooster (Danny Masterson) a "dumbass" -- that was a word Smith threw around a lot as That '70s Show's grumpy Red.
Even though The Ranch features the trappings of the traditional broadcast-network sitcom -- the studio audience, the multi-camera production, etc. -- it's definitely a creature of the streaming age. In other words, the characters cuss.
A Shania Twain joke in The Ranch's pilot episode that had Ashton Kutcher's character talking about sliding “balls head first into Miss Shania” and showing the singer his “Twain” resulted in the actor publicly apologizing to the singer on Twitter. Twain wasn't mad -- and the two got into an epic Shania-song-lyric quote-off.
On The Ranch, Coors is the beer of choice for Beau (Sam Elliott). In real life, Coors beer commercials are voiced by -- who else? -- Sam Elliott.
While Ashton Kutcher is clearly devoted to That '70s Show, he hasn't forgotten about his other big broadcast-network hit. Jon Cryer, who starred with Kutcher on the last four seasons of Two and a Half Men, appeared in Parts 1 and 2 of The Ranch, on the episodes, "Til It's Gone," and "Big Money," respectively.
Among all the big-name brands of whiskey you'll see visually referenced on the show is a small, local one: 291 Whiskey. It's from a small-batch distillery in Colorado Springs, Colo.
As you may have noticed, on The Ranch, everyone in Garrison has somewhat of a Southern accent. If you live in or visit Colorado, however, you’ll find that almost no one in the Rocky Mountain state has any sort of regional accent.
In the very first episode of The Ranch, rough-and-tumble Colt (Ashton Kutcher) can be seen wearing comfy Uggs boots. The footwear made such an impression that fans demanded their return. In a subsequent interview with the New York Times, Kutcher promised Uggs would make another appearance -- "or two."
While The Ranch doesn't straight-up give away the birth date of Ashton Kutcher's character, you can figure it out. In the pilot, Colt does some quick math to make sure the woman in his bedroom is of age. As he's figuring, he says he was 17 in 1999. That would make him about about 34 or 35 in 2016, which is the same year that the present-day-set show debuted.
Fans on a now-archived Reddit thread noticed that Danny Masterson’s character Rooster only chews Kodiak Wintergreen smokeless tobacco.